Welcome to the Anthropocene
The entire 4.6-billion-year history of the earth is divided into geological units. These include the epochs: periods in which the earth changed irrevocably. Currently, we live in the era officially known as the Holocene. But there are many indications that a new era has begun: the “age of humans” or “Anthropocene”. The 1,600-square-foot special exhibition at the Deutsches Museum Munich wants to present various aspects showing humankind as a geological factor on a par with such elemental forces as glaciers or volcanos.
Theme panels reminiscent of the fragments of a once single, cohesive continent, present six main topics: urbanity and resources, mobility, human-machine, nature, nutrition and evolution. Together, they provide insight into the interactions that characterise the Anthropocene.
Another dominant element of the exhibition functions as a reference to the location, the Deutsches Museum. A twenty-metre-wide, three-metre-high object shelf which appears to consist entirely of corrugated cardboard contains typical objects from the history of science and technology placed in cut out cavities. They stand for the formative role of technology in the Anthropocene. They are set in relation to one another with calligraphic drawings and cross-references as in a sketchbook.
A media installation of different monitors designed as a three-metre cube refers to the importance of the media in the global society of the Anthropocene. The central screen shows “Anthropocene spots” representing the various themes of the Anthropocene in the form of entertaining commercials. They all end with the slogan “You are Anthropocene”. This refers to our role as global players no matter how small we may assess our own impact to be.
The exhibition illustrates opportunities and risks – from the destructive potential of humankind to its unique creative and spiritual possibilities. Out of this grows the opportunity, but also the responsibility, to shape the Anthropocene. At the end of the tour, visitors are invited to take part symbolically as a gardener of the Anthropocene. They can design a landscape with self-folded origami flowers thus leaving their traces behind at the exhibition. Visitors express their thoughts and ideas on the Anthropocene on these paper flowers in the hope that they will bear fruit in the future.